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Curse of the Mutants

by yo go re

Every comicbook fan seems to go through an X-Men period - a span of time when you care about the mutants and follow their books closely. Me, I gave up on the X-Books a long time ago, and the guy I counted on for updates decided to drop comics altogether, so I can't ask him, either. Consequently, I have no idea what Curse of the Mutants is about, other than it apparently involved vampires.

Betrayed by his son Xarus, Dracula was revived by the X-Men to assist them in their war with his offspring. But the true king of the vampires needs no help from mutants, and Dracula vows to deal with his son in his own way.

Dracula has a son? And it's not Alucard? Go figure. This isn't the first time Drac's run afoul of the X-Men: he bit Storm in Uncanny X-Men #159, and was "killed" (wink wink) in Uncanny X-Men Annual #6. Of course, back then he looked like what you'd expect Dracula to look like; now, not so much.

Time hasn't been kind to Dracula. He still has the palid flesh and the pointy ears, but his hair's gone white. And long. He gets a new hair piece with a separate ponytail. He's also wearing giant earrings, to make himself feel pretty. His face is lined, and his eyes are blank red - the face suits Dracula, even if the hair doesn't.

Rather than an old-fashioned 19th century suit, Dracula is wearing strange red armor that make him look less like the lord of the night and more like the king of all lobsters. It may have been inspired by the armor Gary Oldman wore in the beginning of the 1992 movie, but that doesn't make it good. The gloves, boots and chest cap are all new pieces, detailed with overlapping plates and rivets.

There are two design issues with Dracula. First, his feet don't fit into his legs properly. There are gaps at the ankles, and the feet fall out easily. Normally this could be fixed by twisting the feet until they forced their way into the legs, but the armor on the shins prevents that from happening. Secondly, he has a sword, but the hilt is too short to actually fit in his hand, rendering it useless. You can usually count on Minimates for reliable construction, which is why we never mention it: there are no problems, and no nothing to talk about. But Dracula is not up to their usual standards.

Although he helps the X-Men obtain a vampire test subject so they can work on a cure for Jubilee, Blade objects to their plan to revive Dracula. It is Blade who discovers Xarus' plan to invade San Francisco, specifically the mutant sanctuary Utopia.

This is the second Blade Minimate, the first having come in 2005's Series 9. At the time, his look in the comics was heavily influenced by the movie costume - soon after, the Blade tv series debuted, and the comics soon switched to that new look. It's been fairly consistent since, so that's what this Minimate is sporting, as well.

The most noticable difference between the movie and TV versions is the hair: Wesley Snipes had his high-top fade, while Sticky Fingaz was bald, so modern Blade is bald. Mostly bald - there are two "lightning bolts" of hair on his scalp, whatever those are about. He's got a skinny handlebar mustache and is wearing reflective shades. Usually Art Asylum gives bald characters smooth heads without a "hair hole" in the top, but not Blade: he looks like he's been stabbed in the brain.

Blade gets some new pieces to make up his otherwise-simple costume: an armored vest with holes in the back where scabbards plug in, and a utility belt. The belt originally belonged to Deadpool, but being painted black and silver makes it look entirely new. Instead of a revolver to fit in the loop at the back, he has some kind of rounded sci-fi pistol thing. The swords are also from a Deadpool, but a different one. If you take off Blade's vest, there's a fully detailed torso underneath - he's wearing a tank top.

Few X-Men would be able to stand up to Wolverine under normal circumstances, but a vampiric Wolverine in the grips of bloodlust is nigh-unstoppable. It's too bad his mutant healing factor doesn't work on the vampire virus...

Here we are, with Wolverine #37. It's sort of something we've seen before, and yet also something we haven't. This is clearly based on the Astonishing X-Men costume, but with the tweaks that happened later, such as the darker blue and the X-symbol on his chest (which is particularly silly, since he started wearing it about the time he joined the Avengers).

Since he's gone all vampire, his eyes are blank white and he's baring his fangs. Okay, those aren't completely unusual features, but they feel vampiric here. His hair is reused, and he gets a repainted mask. A repainted mask that neither looks like the one he wears with this costume, nor actually fits on his head. Seriously, it's an even tighter fit than even Iron Man or the Viper pilots had to deal with. I'm afraid to put it on him, for fear it may never come off. Or will rub his face off when it does. Like many recent Wolverines, he includes the "pulled back" mask around his neck - such a cool little feature!

Jubilee may have lost her mutant powers, but is targeted by Xarus' forces for her bond with Wolverine. Infected by a vampire virus, Jubilee is turned by Xarus himself, and is in his thrall when her former partner comes to rescue her.

After M-Day, millions of mutants lost their powers - but as far as "important" mutants, Jubilee was one of only a handful. It was, like, her and Blob, and then a million losers you never heard of. She was briefly a member of the (new) New Warriors, using a powered suit, but that didn't last either, so she moved to San Francisco to at least be near her old friends. Which is why she was handy when the vampires attacked - and the only reason they did that is they knew Wolverine would be the one who came to rescue her.

Turning evil suits Jubilee: instead of her old yellow, pink and blue, she's wearing black leather with a deep neckline, and instead of her old chest she's sporting some cleavage. She's wearing grey lipstick and has a new hair piece. The necklace on her chest protects her from sunlight, somehow - it's how the vampires got around in daylight.

There's a molding error on Jubilee; it was present on Blade, too, but we were willing to leave it alone when only one figure had it - after all, that could just be a fluke. However, when two figures in one set are wrong in exactly the same way, it suggests a deeper problem. The error is found on the hip block: the underside has too much plastic on the left side, so the left leg's range of motion is FUBAR. Looks like it's time to quality-check the steel tool used to mold the hips.

The Curse of the Mutants box set is not a great one. Dracula is a weird modern design that will be forgotten in a week, his feet fall off and he can't hold his only accessory. Wolverine's mask doesn't fit, and Blade and Jubilee both have molding issues (though clearly, that may vary from set to set). Then again, the more I look at King Crimson Dracula, the more I like him - not as Dracula, because the design is stupid, but as a generic hench-villain. Blade's cool, Jubilee looks great evil, and when else are you ever going to see Vampire Wolverine? Definitely not a must-have, though.

-- 10/24/11

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